• Unexpected Stars of Ignite Phoenix #10

    I have been involved with Ignite Phoenix since the fall of 2009.  I presented at Ignite #5 and I have been a volunteer at every Ignite Phoenix event since.  I love the Ignite Phoenix crew and the Ignite concept.    It’s hard to describe what Ignite Phoenix is because words alone do not do it justice.  The Ignite Phoenix page describes it as “an information exchange for fostering and inspiring Phoenix’s creative community.  In one evening, you hear 18 passionate speakers from our creative, technical, and business communities talking about their current projects or favorite ideas for just five minutes.  Presentations will educate and inspire you, and maybe make you laugh in the process.”  Each speaker gets 5 minutes and 20 slides to talk about their passion, and their slideshow advances every 15 seconds whether they like it or not.

    Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

    I volunteer backstage on the night of Ignite Phoenix.  My job involves wrangling the presenters before the show, orienting them to the stage and the evening, answering questions and calming their fears, putting microphones of presenters during the show, and running around doing odd jobs throughout the night.  I love what I do, but because I run around so much during the show, I only see half of each presenter’s performance at best.  I watch every presentation in its entirety a few weeks later when the videos of each presenter are posted on YouTube.

    Even though I don’t get to see the show in its entirety on show night, there are always a few presenters who grab my attention.  Usually they are the people I did not expect to be captivating.  Ignite Phoenix #10 was no exception.  These women were the unexpected stars of the show for me.

    • Corri Wells:  I initially perceived Corri as a somewhat sweet and soft-spoken person.  I saw on the program that her topic was “Anger” and I expected her to talk from a psychological perspective.  I didn’t expect her to take the stage with such a powerful presence and advocate for people to use their anger to make their voices heard and create change.  “Publish or democracy perishes.”
    • Bogi Lateiner:  Bogi’s presentation was “How Learning to Change A Tire Changed My Life.”  When I met her I noted how girly she was in her skinny jeans and heels.  She is the epitome of a person you would expect not to know the first thing about cars, yet when as I listened to her speak about her experiences rebuilding her Volkswagen bug and teaching women about automotive basics, I began to picture her working on her car in a pair of faded coveralls and a smear of grease across her face.  The lesson that I took away from her was that it’s empowering to know how to do things yourself, and it gives you a sense of security.  She made me want to know more about the inner workings of my car and just how to do be more handy in general.
    Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

    It’s people like Corri and Bogi that make me love Ignite Phoenix so much.  You never know what to expect and you always walk away from the experience entertained, enlightened, and inspired.

    If you want more information about what it’s like to be an Ignite Phoenix presenter, Jay Thompson was also a presenter at Ignite Phoenix #10 and wrote an excellent post about his experience of being a presenter from his application submission through to his actual performance on the Ignite stage.

    Submissions are currently being accepted for Ignite Phoenix #11 on October 28, 2011 and its big sister show, Ignite Phoenix After Hours #2 on July 29, 2011.

  • Discrimination Against GSA in West Bend

    I was listening to Dan Savage’s Savage Love Podcast last week and I heard about a sad but inspiring situation in West Bend, Wisconsin.  East and West High Schools has had an unofficial Gay-Straight Alliance for over a decade and is currently being denied the recognition of being an official school group.

    Some schools have Gay-Straight Alliances or si...
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    Prior to this year, student group recognition was fairly informal, and it appeared that every group that requested recognition received it.  This year a new process was imposed that required a group to show that they have curricular tie, national or state affiliation, student appeal and a volunteer adviser to receive recognition by the school.  The GSA complied with every requirement of the application process and their application was approved by the school district administrators.   All they needed was the approval from the West Bend Board of Education.

    The students of the West and East High School GSA did a very ballsy thing – they hired an attorney who assisted them throughout this process.  When the group went before the school board, their attorney warned the board members that legal action for discrimination could result if they denied the group’s request for official recognition.  They walked into that meeting and basically said, “We’ve complied with your requirements.  We know we have rights, and if you deny us our rights, we’re going to sue you.”  I love it!

    The school board unfortunately voted against granting the GSA recognition.  Randy Marquardt, president of the board of education, voted against recognition and does not understand the need for the school to recognize the GSA.  He allegedly said the board should not vote in the group’s favor to avoid a threat of legal action.

    The GSA complied with the school’s requirements for recognition, and therefore they have earned the right to be an official school group.  The co-presidents of the GSA have filed a federal lawsuit against the West Bend Board of Education for violations of their First Amendment rights and the federal Equal Access Act that grants all non-curriculum student groups equal access if a school recognized at least one non-curriculum student group.  The students claim that they are being denied the privileges afforded to recognized student groups such as using the school’s PA system, posting flyers and posters in the school, using the school’s resources and equipment, raising funds for group activities, and being included in the school yearbook.

    These students should be applauded for their determination and for refusing to sit in the back of the proverbial bus.  Their group’s mission is “to combat bullying and harassment through education and advocacy and to provide an emotionally and physically healing learning environment for people of all gender and sexual orientations.”  The GSA has only asked for a declaration that the board of education violated rights, a court order requiring the school to recognize the GSA as student group, less than $20 of damages and attorneys’ fees.  They are not asking for anything spectacular, only for what is fair.

    To the students in West Bend, keep fighting the good fight. I was pleased to hear that the community for the most part seems to support you.  Please let us know what we can do to continue to support you and your cause.

    If you want to send Randy Marquardt a message urging him to allow the GSA to be an officially recognized student group, you can email him at rmarquardt@west-bend.k12.wi.us or call him at 262-306-2601.

    UPDATE: On Monday, June 13, 2011, in a re-vote the West Bend School Board approved the request for an official GSA at West Bend High School.  It appears that the school board caved because they were advised that if they fought the lawsuit filed against them, that they would lose.  Randy Marquardt had the audacity to say that the board was bullied by the GSA and that he still does not approve of giving the group recognition as a student club.  Regardless of why the board approved the GSA, it was the right thing to do.  Congratulations kids!

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  • Guidelines for Studying for the Bar Exam

    Today is my first day of BarBri class.  For the next 10 weeks, I will be on a regimented schedule of going to class and studying as I prepare for the Arizona Bar Exam.  Thankfully, I am a person who thrives in structure, so being on a strict schedule should work well for me.  I have been thinking about what guidelines will apply to my life during Bar prep.

    1. A Student of the University of British Columbi...
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      Stick to the BarBri schedule – go to class every day and study for a total of 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.  It’s better to be over-prepared than under-prepared.

    2. Use study techniques that work for me: class, outlines, and flash cards.
    3. Everyone is banned from the house unless they have an invitation.
    4. Do 30 minutes of walking, jogging, swimming, biking, or yoga every day.
    5. Eat a balanced diet – lots of fresh fruit, veggies, and protein; minimal sugar; & plenty of water.
    6. Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
    7. Avoid people and places that bring excessive drama to my life.
    8. No TV except for my weekly indulgences of House and Deadliest Catch.
    9. When I’m studying, I cannot have my cell phone where I can see or hear it.
    10. When I’m outlining on the computer, stay off of email, Facebook, and Twitter.
    11. If I realize that I’m just staring at my books without doing any productive work, STOP and take a break.
    12. The default response to any invitation to social events until the Bar is “No;” however there must be the occasional fun event to maintain my sanity.

    I’ve spent the last few days getting the house in order so that I will have as few distractions as possible while I’m studying.  I have also been reading Chad Noreuil’s The Arizona Bar Exam: Pass It Now.  I’m grateful that my family and friends are being supportive of me and my process.  One of my friends has already put me on notice that if I’m too non-responsive to the point that he worries that I’m getting unbalanced, that he’ll stage a raid.  I doubt that will be necessary but it’s good to know that people care about me enough that they would be willing to do that.

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